10 Secret Tricks to Make Your Ice Breaker Exercise Actually Work

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Ice Breaker Tips

We’ve all probably done a fun, engaging ice breaker we enjoyed, right? But we’ve probably also felt forced, at one point or another, to participate in an awkward or pointless ice breaker that left us rolling our eyes. The trick, of course, is figuring out how to use the ice breaker as a helpful tool to help the group interact, without making people feel like you’re wasting their time or demanding too much of them.

Icebreaker games are beneficial, but only if you play it just right. Lo and behold, we have some ideas for helping you do that.

10 Ideas for Making Your Icebreaker a Hit

  1. When choosing your icebreaker, try to choose an activity that anyone can participate in with ease. Consider who will be in the room and think about whether each person is physically able to join in.
  2. Design the ice breaker so that no one feels uncomfortable or anxious. This means you should look for icebreakers that do not put one person on the spot or involve personal or embarrassing questions or behaviors.
  3. Always ask for volunteers if you need someone to play a specific role. Don’t just appoint someone as the possibility of being called out is proven to make everyone in the room feel less comfortable.
  4. Explain why you are doing the ice breaker. It can be helpful, for example, to help people get to know each other further and to get in the habit of interacting to set the tone for the meeting.
  5. Select teams at random or purposefully break up known cliques so that people are prompted to interact with someone they don’t already know well.
  6. Encourage not only working together, but also invite participants to cheer people on. When a co-worker is rooting for them, it can make even the most anxious players feel more comfortable and included. And when multiple people engage enthusiastically, it will raise the morale of the whole room.
  7. Keep it simple! Don’t make participation overly complicated or attempt games that require following extensive instructions or using complex materials. (Try these icebreakers we hand-selected to deliver the right amount of challenge.)
  8. Keep it short! Ice breakers can be just two minutes long, but should rarely go beyond ten. Longer ice breakers often work best when the groups break up to work on a task and then report back. It is harder to sustain ten minutes of focused attention in one big group. (These 50+ ice breaker questions and these 30 additional icebreaker questions are almost perfect for getting started.)
  9. Try to create a level playing field. In addition to selecting an activity anyone can participate in, try to choose exercises that anyone could win as well. Stay away from activities that could only be won by the physically strongest or fastest member, or by members with certain occupations or skill sets. Games that require good communication, listening, remembering, and other normal life skills make everyone feel like they have a chance.
  10. Ask for feedback. After the meeting ends, ask people to quickly write down how they felt about the icebreaker anonymously and throw it in a bucket. Use any comments received to become even more informed before you choose future team activities.

If you’re wanting to try something even more hands-on and challenge based, you might also want to check out these engaging but simple team building games that also have big benefits for group bonding and communication.

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